Reuters

75,000 to 100,000 residents are fleeing the city in an unprecedented evacuation effort.

Calgary, Canada's third-largest city, has begun evacuating 75,000 to 100,000 residents from two dozen downtown neighborhoods as water levels in the Bow River continue to rise.

Rivers in southern Alberta have been flooding all week, and schools in Calgary, population 1.1 million, were closed on Friday as a precaution. As water crept into the central business district this morning, many buildings were put under mandatory evacuation order.

"I have never seen the river rise that high or that fast," Mayor Naheed Nenshi told Global News. He estimated the Bow was carrying three times as much water as in 2005, when flooding washed away roads and produced the province's most costly natural disaster ever. Meteorologists are reporting the river is flowing at six to seven times its normal volume, and the the city has called its first state of emergency since the 1920s.

Via Global News livestream.

Via Global News livestream.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is on his way to the city, as are 600 soldiers to assist in flooded areas. The zoo has been completely submerged, with lions and tigers reportedly evacuated to holding pens in the courthouse.

Calgary lies at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers. Over 6 inches of rain have fallen in the last 48 hours, and more is forecast for this evening.

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